2018 Was The Year Most of US Routinely Used AI (Whether We Knew It or Not)
At home we quickly adopted Google Assistants and Alexa as devices - not just as apps on our smartphones. Increasingly we converse with our home tech rather than use a remote.
Those lucky enough to drive Teslas are using AI every time they drive (all Tesla cars are learning and sharing with each other all the time). Meanwhile, the rest of us use AI-powered translation, search engines, navigation systems or travel using AI-powered tech such as Uber. Social media feeds are curated by AI - as are music, video and media suggestions on platforms such as Netflix, Spotify and YouTube.
AI can now kick human arse at every game we have ever devised. It can write pop music, read better than the average human (and MUCH faster), create art and read legal contracts better than lawyers. AI combined with robotics can now solve Rubik's Cube in much less than a second.
The danger now is that marketing and sales might also be among those games AI has the potential to do better than we humans...
We all know now that the chat we are having online with our supplier's service department isn't necessarily with a human. Chances are it's with a bot (we looked at how cool some of these bots can and will be in Part 1). In May 2018 Google opened the door on to its labs to show us AI that can make specific telephone calls - such as making an appointment at the hairdresser - in a very human way.
Click on the graphic above to watch Google Assistant negotiate an appointment with an unwitting human.
But what AI can we actually use to make more sales today? Buzzwords do not help us hit targets this quarter and next quarter. What AI technology can we actually use today to make a difference? I don't claim to have used all these technologies (so if you have, please give feedback) but I went looking and found some examples of tools that claimed to be available right now to apply AI to help sales and marketing evolve.
Where will AI Impact B2B Sales & Marketing in Understanding, Targeting and Serving Customers?
Big Data and Machine Learning
Machine learning and AI can be brought into play wherever there is a lot of customer data. AI can identify the patterns we mere humans may not be able to see or may not have time to find.
If we can think of the questions we want to ask, AI may well be able to get the answers from the data we already have - but only if that data is digital and available.
Indian firm Applicate (founded in 2016) claims to have an AI sales bot Sellina (great name) that is integrated with Google so you can talk to it and ask it questions such as "Hey Google, how can I achieve my sales target for the week?".
Once it is integrated with your CRM / ERP / SFA system, the idea is that it will act as a personal coach. Speaking of coaching...
Training and Coaching Sales People
AI technology such as Gong claims to be able to analyse sales calls and the content of those calls to understand the habits of top performing sales professionals vs the rest. Time spent listening vs talking, speed of conversations, how pauses are used as well as the specific questions asked and how objections are handled, can all be analysed using AI, says Gong.
Gong claims that this has a huge impact on training new sales reps, as well as helping average and poor performers to improve.
I recently discovered this YouTube video ad...
Benjamin Dennehey is in his own words "the UK's most hated sales trainer". I recently sat down with him to discuss the applications of AI in sales (including looking at the incredible Soul Machines we discussed in part 1 of this series). In particular, we discussed how one day this sales training guru might be training AIs rather than sales people...
These technologies are clearly very new developments and as I said earlier, I make no claims or guarantees whatsoever about their validity or functionality - I'm merely interested in the applications for AI in marketing and sales that claim to be available now. If you have used any of these products in anger, please get in touch. I'd love to hear your real-world feedback and share it.
These days almost every CRM and Marketing Automation Tool also claims to use some form of AI to enhance functionality. In my next post I'll focus in on those vendors already using AI and how leading applications use AI (or what they claim is AI) to help their users generate additional sales.
If you are interested in automating your marketing and sales operations you can download an introductory whitepaper I co-wrote (below) or visit the the Intergage blog for more about automated marketing and sales technology.